Bandh hits normal life in Manipur’s five districts for 2nd day

IANS Photo

IANS Photo

Imphal, September 20 (IANS): The 48-hour shutdown, called by various civil society organisations and local clubs across the state demanding unconditional release of five ‘village protection volunteers’, hit normal life in Manipur’s five valley districts for the second day on Wednesday.

A top police officer on Wednesday said that they would not release the five people as they were caught with sophisticated arms and ammunition and were wearing camouflage uniform.

Police officers said that though some minor incidents were reported from the valley districts of Bishnupur, Kakching, Thoubal, Imphal West, and Imphal East, no major incidents took place relating to the shutdown.

In view of the bandh, commuters, though few in numbers, faced a huge problem as the agitators, including women, in Imphal East and Imphal West districts blocked key roads with logs, water pipes and burning tyres.

The movement of Central and state security forces was obstructed in many places due to the blockades. However, essential services and ambulances were allowed to move by the protestors.

Owing to the bandh, all civilian vehicles were off the roads, inter-district, inter-state buses and trucks did not operate. Markets, shops, business establishments, banks, government offices, educational institutions were also closed.

Examinations of various institutions scheduled on Tuesday and Wednesday were postponed due to the protests.

On Sunday, a huge mob tried to storm the Porompat police station in Imphal East district demanding the release of the arrested people, but the security forces repelled the attack by firing tear gas shells.

Several people, including Rapid Action Force personnel, received minor injuries during the tussle.

The civil society organisations had earlier set a deadline to release the five detainees, but police rejected the demand. The agitating organisations threatened to intensify the stir if the ‘volunteers’ were not released after the 48-hour bandh, which started from the intervening night of Monday and Tuesday.

Additional security forces were deployed in various vulnerable, sensitive and mixed-populated areas of the state, especially in the valley districts to avoid major incidents.

M Memcha, a spokesperson of the agitating organisations, claimed that the village protection volunteers were “protecting Meitei villagers from the attacks of the Kuki tribals and armed militants”. The five valley districts, where the shutdown was total, are inhabited by the majority non-tribal Meitei community people.